By Oliver Rosenauer
International students encounter a great deal of challenges when they decide to study abroad. Aside from the usual language barriers there are a series of questions related to jobs, university registration concerns and how to settle into life abroad.
In Vienna a group of former Webster University students decided to dramatically change this situation. Alexander Karakas, Richard Ludmer and Martin Mössmer launched the Vienna Start-Up „Feels Like Home” http://feelslikehome.at/.
The company offers student related services, which shares information about various aspects of a student’s life and provides personal support. What started as giving personal advice to friends has become one of the first spin-offs of Webster University Vienna http://www.webster.ac.at/
The founders aim to offer their ideas and services to the large pool of almost the 55.000 international students in Vienna. In order to achieve their goal, they had to design a tool, which could handle the expected number of requests without any concessions to the quality of the services.
Step by Step http://stepbystepguide.eu/ a new free platform, whose roll out was launched this month was born. Students now can create and customize their own account for free – according to their personal needs. Designed as a “virtual guide to Vienna,” students can plan and organize their studies even before leaving their home countries.
Once in the country a variety of events provide opportunities for socializing and deepening contacts.
An idea like this doesn’t just need personal commitment and effort, but also calls for promotion by powerful partners. Soon other contributors like the MODUL University Vienna http://www.modul.ac.at/ were spotted.
The software tool offers four different steps from Planning Phase to Living Phase, either must-dos or can dos, which are defined and explained in an easy to use self-explanatory way.
The young entrepreneurs are part of the extensive network of partners such as Margaret Furuta founder of Vienna Home Furnishing, www.viennahomefurnishing.at which offers different relocation services from furniture help to redesign or the coordination of the whole moving process.
Private institutions and firms like “Erste Bank” http://www.sparkasse.at/erstebank/ or the insurance company “UNIQA” http://www.uniqa.at/uniqaat/ are also interested in this new target group and offer special services to incoming students.
This broad variety of services and partners is both a creative and innovative approach to helping internationals make their study abroad experience much easier.